One of my favorite landscaping projects we have done on our current home is installing a large window box on the front of our house. Every year I have tried different ways to make the window box look beautiful, and we have discovered it’s not always as easy as it seems! Finding an arrangement of plants that flow together and don’t look awkward can be difficult. But this year I nailed it! Here is what I came up with for easy plants for window boxes that are beautiful and low key.
This was a project I actually did as a gift to the couple that bought our home. Yes, after almost seven years here, we have sold it to move into a home that better fits our growing family and lifestyle. I love this home so much, and I hope the new owners do, too. They have been what I call “dream buyers”–did not try to play any games and were very reasonable.
As a token of our appreciation (because I’m sure as many of you know, home buying/selling is not always so easy) I have planned a couple of small gifts to leave them. One of them was filling the window box. We are moving early June so I could have easily skipped filling the window box, but it was something I felt I wanted to do for them. I also plan to leave them a bottle of wine and replace the water filters in our reverse osmosis system. Nothing too crazy. 😉 But I know they’re things I would love.
Find Your Inspiration
Look at some pictures to see what appeals to you. However, remember that plants aren’t cheap! There are some beautifully grand window boxes you will see online, but some of them have hundreds of dollars worth of plants in them. 🙂 Especially if it is a bigger window box. I like to go with budget-friendly choices since saving money is important to us.
That’s why I say look for inspiration but not necessarily to copy. You will want to know what sort of look you are aiming for, and then you can work to find plants that will achieve that look within your budget.
I wanted an English Country feel to my window box this year, which definitely influenced my plant choices.
Know How Much Sun You Get
Carefully consider how much sun your window boxes will get in a day. If they will get hardly any, you don’t want to choose plants that need full sun. My front yard gets a good amount of sun, but sometimes my roof shades the window box a bit. I usually choose partial sun plants.
Don’t be dishearted if your window box gets a lot of shade–there are tons of great plants you can use. Impatiens, petunias, ivy, and coleus would be some of my top choices–I love those!
Create A Pattern
I recommend picking a few types of plants for your window box and sticking to them. Maybe it’s just my Type A personality, but I typically buy an even numbered amount of each plant I choose and then arrange them in an organized pattern.
I prefer this to a haphazard random assortment of whatever flowers looked nice at the nursery that day. I have done that in the past, and what I thought was going to look colorful and fun ended up looking like I didn’t really know what I was doing!
Make Them Full! But They Will Grow, Too.
Remember that window boxes should be full. However, you don’t have to jam pack them when planting– the plants will grow and fill out the box on their own as time goes on. But you don’t want to leave big gaps in between plants, either.
Here is my final window box! I took this picture the day after planting. I can’t wait to see how much it fills out over the next few weeks and the summer! Of course, I won’t be living here anymore so I will have to drive by on occasion. 😉
Make Sure The Plants Are Visible
The plants in a window box need to be visible! If you are new to planting window boxes, one of the biggest mistakes I see is just putting single flowers in a line. It will look pretty when you’re standing near the window box, but it will not at all be visible from the street. A window box isn’t exactly the same as a rectangular planter.
I saw a cute saying online to help plan out a visible window box: to get some easy plants for window boxes that look great, you need a filler, a spiller, and a thriller. That is so true!
The filler goes back to making sure that your window box is full. If it’s not, it’s not going to give the curb appeal you were hoping for and it will be difficult to see from the street. To get the biggest bang for my buck, I look for plants that naturally spread out wider instead of buying a ton of smaller plants.
A spiller adds dimension to your window box. These are the plants that flow out of the box. I usually use ivy for my spiller–it’s cheap, easy to get, and gives a beautiful English garden feel to my window box.
Finally, the thriller is the color and beautiful flowers you usually think of automatically when picturing a window box. You can use what you would like for this, but to get the biggest bang for my buck, I actually combined my filler & thriller into one plant this year: I used purple and white sweet alyssum.
Sweet Alyssum will spread out and fill on its own, but it’s also beautiful and smells amazing.
You can see the pattern I created and how the sweet alyssum almost acts as an “all of the above” plant. It fills, it spills, it thrills! 😉 I chose to go with subtle coloring for the window box, but you may wish to have even more pops of color. Petunias would be a great, colorful choice.
Nothing is sadder than a brown and withering window box. Make sure you water regularly. Also, you may even want to consider a product like Miracle-Gro Water Storing Crystals. I have used them with great success in my window boxes, though I did not throw any in this year. Hopefully, the new owners water often!
My Window Box “Recipe”
If you’re interested in copying or creating a similar window box to what I did, here is what I used:
- 4 White Sweet Alyssum Plants
- 4 Lavender Sweet Alyssum Plants
- 6 English Ivy
My window box is about 7.5 ft (90 inches) long. You may want more or fewer plants depending on the size.
As you can see, I started on the far left with a white sweet alyssum plant. I followed that with ivy, then lavender sweet alyssum, then ivy again. Then I started the pattern over again. The only time I deviated from my pattern is in the center where I put a white and lavender sweet alyssum next to each other. That probably needed no acknowledgment, but there is a glimpse into how Type A I can be sometimes. 😉
These truly are some easy plants for window boxes, and they helped me make my favorite window box I’ve ever made!
What did you put in your window box this year? Let me know in the comments!